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Being the mother of a son with a severe anxiety disorder (and sharing a diagnosis myself) new beginnings can often be fraught with tension.

We have tried through the years to use humour as much as possible to diffuse some potentially dicey situations.

This morning, my son embarked on his high school years. Grade 9. I’ve checked in with him throughout the summer to see how he’s feeling about it all and his standard answer is always, “fine.”

Fair enough. No matter how sensitive he may be, no fourteen-year-old boy wants to constantly go over his feelings with his mother.

Yesterday, he wanted me to drive him to school and possibly stick around a little bit so he could figure out where he needed to be and gain his footing. He was nervous. Excited too, but nervous.

Truth be told, I was probably more nervous than he was and that made it trickier for me to present a calm exterior for him. I think I pulled it off. I say “think” because there were a couple of times in the car when he asked if I was crying.

“Bah!” I replied. “Of course not!”

As we got closer to the school and we started to see all sorts of kids streaming out of the side streets and heading to the big brick building on the corner, he started to…relax! I was expecting the opposite. I really was. I thought for sure his anxiety would get the best of him and he’d need to take some deep breaths.

He took some deep breaths all right. But he did that without my reminding him and without really mentioning it. He just did it.

He spied a couple of his buddies coming up to the lights, glanced over at me and said, “Mom, you can let me off here, I’ve got this.”

A little stunned (and maybe a little hurt?), I nodded. “You sure?”

He smiled his crooked grin. “Yup. If I need you, I’ll call.”

With that, he was out of the car and joined up with his buddies. They crossed the street together and headed to the school where they will spend their formative years together.

As a parent, you live for the day when your kid reaches for independence and wants to show you how he can manage.

I saw that today. Anxiety disorder or not, my kid is going to be okay.

About Lori Lane Murphy

Lori is passionate about banishing stigma around mental illness not just for our kids, but perhaps, especially for our kids. She believes that if we can take away some of the guilt and shame associated with these issues, conversations will become easier. This is one of the reasons that Lori organizes storytelling shows across the city of Toronto focusing on sharing stories of mental illness. All in Our Heads gives storytellers and audiences alike the opportunity to learn from each other and support the efforts of anti-stigma campaigns. It’s also an opportunity for Lori to share some of her own stories in the hope of helping others. Lori volunteers with Art with Impact by being part of their board and organizing All in Our Heads. She volunteers as a speaker with Partners in Mental Health and is especially excited about her new volunteer role as a Healthy Minds blogger! As a storyteller, comedian, professional speaker and facilitator, Lori wants to use her voice to support those who struggle with the stigma of mental illness and to help remove the shame still too often associated with it.

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